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Aperture priority vs shutter priority vs manual mode

Coming out of auto mode shooting is the first step of success for a beginner when it comes to digital photography. Auto mode takes fine photos in normal lighting conditions but creates a big limitation on being creative, as the camera is making choices on behalf of the user. Telling a digital camera what to do is the best way to evolve and grow your skills as a hobbyist or professional photographer. But with so many shooting modes offered by current DSLR and mirror less cameras, it can be confusing to choose one shooting mode over the other. Frankly, all the major photo-taking modes on a digital camera have their own place depending on what you want to photograph. 
The three main shooting modes on a digital camera include aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual. There are various other creative modes as well, but those don't do much justice to someone who is looking to learn and improve their photography skills. In this post, I won't go into in-depth detail about how each mode works, for this my previous post about different shooting modes on a digital camera would help. This post would be mainly about why and when to prefer one shooting mode over the other. Let's get started. 
Aperture priority (Av or A): Widely preferred by a fair number of photographers, aperture priority is my second favorite mode of taking photos after manual mode. Aperture can be used to introduce creativity into your photos in so many ways. The concept of shallow depth of field and deep depth of field start with the value of aperture (F value) only. 
When to use aperture priority? As long as there are no special requirements about motion blur or action, aperture priority is an excellent choice. The most common usage of aperture priority mode is landscape photography and studio portrait shots. 

When to use aperture priority

Shutter priority (Tv or S): In this mode, the camera locks shutter speed at the value defined by the user. Not a very common mode of shooting for most of the photographers. When to use shutter priority? The most common usage of shutter priority is moving subjects. Example: Action shots, sports events, kids photos, etc.  

when to use shutter priority


Manual (M): Manual mode is a really valuable tool when it comes to learning digital photography. It helps you to understand the relation between aperture, shutter speed, ISO and light the hard way.  In this mode, user choice is important and full control is given to the user. When to use manual mode? If the lighting is not changing constantly, manual mode is a good choice. Once you get experienced with achieving exposure properly and changing settings on the fly, manual mode can be used literally for every situation. On a side note, quickly changing light conditions can make it tricky to shoot in manual mode sometimes. But the more you practice, the better it gets. 

when to use manual mode

If I had to choose a photo shooting mode, it would be a tie between aperture priority and manual mode. I rarely use shutter priority on either of my camera bodies, it's always either aperture priority or full manual mode. As a beginner, you do not have to go straight to manual mode as it can be fairly overwhelming. Also, don't get caught up too much in the battle of aperture priority vs shutter priority vs manual mode. Shooting in manual mode doesn't make you look more professional or better than others, it's the photographs that speak for themselves. Choose the mode that makes you feel comfortable with the camera and get the shots you want. There is no law that tells you to shoot manual, and it is not a necessity. Once you understand exposure and get better with your camera ergonomics, any shooting mode can be used. Happy photography:) 

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